Celebrating Those Who Took Risks

“I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” - John 17:4

Dear Friends, On Sunday, I took a risk by pulling out my guitar during worship and based on the absence of any angry e-mails or phone calls, I’ll say it worked out well. More than that, I’ve already been hearing from people who’ve followed God to take some risks these past few weeks and how they’ve paid off - that’s so awesome! And as excited as I am to see and hear more from you, I also recognize that there’ve been some faithful risks taken during this past year that I need to highlight because both came to a kind of close this past Thursday. The first is the Pop Up Food Pantry. Fifteen months ago, we were wrestling with what school closings for Covid would mean for children and families who got their daily lunch there. Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches with some fruit for kids grew and changed over a year as we expanded the locations to four, volunteers and the offerings to include fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, orange juice and seasonal specialties. Over the course of that time, over $175,000 was given by individuals, businesses and civic groups to the Greater Canonsburg-Houston Ministerial Association for this food - it was an overwhelming response! When we started, we had no idea what the response would be. We didn’t know how long we could offer help, but we stepped out, too, a risk and believed that God was calling us to band together to meet a community need. When we did… God showed up in a HUGE way! This past Thursday, we celebrated together, reminiscing about the months of service and the many fun and funny experiences along the way. While we could never name everyone who volunteered across the four locations during the fifteen months we served, there were certainly some key leaders - Dave Rhome, Julie Consentino, Darla Rhome, Jim O’Brien, Jodi Rhome, Sharon Cox and Don O'Hare were instrumental in this endeavor throughout and we would never have blessed as many as we did without them! The second risk I want to highlight that came to somewhat of a close Thursday, was the work of George Dodworth. I shared with you a few months ago about how he pivoted in the midst of a pandemic that basically shut down his entire worldwide laser business, moving toward Covid testing. To date, he helped complete over 22 million tests and this work continues! But he also helped to administer 2 million vaccines nationwide and for the past several weeks, finishing this past Thursday, our Fellowship Hall was a location for these. It was awesome to see George and our Trustees and staff work together to provide this opportunity to bless and care for our community during this time. And it was also awesome to hear the personal nature of his team, how they would make trips to reach shut-ins and the elderly, each of these in-home visits “speak to the heart of the mission that CUPC represents… small deeds multiply and carry the good through the entire community and beyond.” I can only imagine the risk that George took, I can only imagine the risks that his team took to make this happen… and I can only imagine the risks taken by the people who received a vaccine, hoping they were making the right decision, but having to trust leaders and experts that they just weren’t sure about. But they did take the risk, and it’s paying off now! I’m so glad they took these risks. I’m so glad for the ministry of the Pop Up Pantry, of the Covid testing and vaccinations and for the risks you are taking, faithfully following God. I know it’s not easy to know when taking a risk is being faithful or foolish. I understand what it’s like to stand at the threshold of a doorway and not be certain if you should step through… and that’s why this Sunday, we’re going to take a look at someone who wrestled with this same situation. If you have time, I encourage you to read through the fairly short book of Esther. While we’ll focus on the part of her story from Chapter 4, to really understand all she was up against and everything going on in that story, reading all 10 (short) chapters is the best way to go. Today, I raise a grateful toast to the leaders above who took a risk and closed out some very faithful service this past Thursday - I’m looking forward to the next exciting endeavors we will be called to step into together! Welcoming you to Grow in Jesus, and take a risk this week, Pastor Don

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